Recent advancement on PD-L1 expression quantification: The radiologist perspective on CT-guided FNAC

Silvia Casale, Chandra Bortolotto, Giulia Maria Stella, Andrea Riccardo Filippi, Salvatore Gitto, Olivia Maria Bottinelli, Sergio Carnevale, Patrizia Morbini, Lorenzo Preda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE We aimed to evaluate the feasibility, accuracy, and safety of Programmed Death-1/ Programmed Death-Ligand 1 (PD-1/ PD-L1) expression quantification in cytology cell-block samples obtained through transthoracic CT-guided fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) from the interventional radiologist’s perspective. METHODS We performed a consecutive unselected series of 361 CT-guided biopsies of pulmonary nodules and masses which came to our observation from June 2017 to October 2018. For each case, exhaustive clinical, morphologic, molecular and tomographic data were available. All the material obtained was fixed in formalin to obtain a cell-block for the pathologist, who performed immunohistochemical analysis to detect PD-L1 expression levels on each sample. RESULTS Of all the analyzed samples, 93.6% (338/361) were defined to be diagnostic, including neoplastic (72%, 260/361) and non-neoplastic lesions (21.6%, 78/361); only 6.4% (23/361) of them resulted in nondiagnostic specimens. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounted for 73.8% of neoplastic lesions (192/260): most of them were adenocarcinoma (83%, 160/192), followed by squamous carcinoma (14%, 27/192) and poorly differentiated carcinoma (3%, 5/192). In 96% of NSCLC (184/192), the diagnosis was reached either in the absence of complications or with early minor complications. PD-L1 expression was evaluated in all 192 NSCLC cytology specimens: 180 immunostainings were found to be adequate for PD-L1 testing. In 76% of cases, PD-L1 expression level was lower than 50%. CONCLUSION The findings of our study indicate that PD-L1 quantification using a cell-block approach on CT-guided FNAC is a feasible and safe technique and should be taken into account alongside with core biopsy approach, especially in case of advanced disease and/or fragile and older patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-218
Number of pages5
JournalDiagnostic and Interventional Radiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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